Shaun King, #BlackLivesMatter Activist, Speaks at Haverford

Shaun King spoke in Founders Great Hall. Photograph by Kate Silber.

Shaun King spoke in Founders Great Hall. Photograph by Kate Silber.

After Shaun King’s talk on Wednesday night, students rushed to the front of Founders Great Hall to get a souvenir of the event: a selfie with the prominent #BlackLivesMatter figure and social media genius himself.

“By using social media to highlight, amplify, and discuss news of police brutality, racial discrimination, and other civil rights issues, King has become an indispensable source for extending crucial conversations about social justice and equality,” according to a poster for the event.

During an hour-long talk that night, King spoke to about 400 students, administrators, and community members about police brutality and what it will take to create change. The talk was followed by a question and answer session.

It was “an important and relevant event – important to have on campus I think, particularly in light of events this summer,” said Maurice Rippel ’19, who organized the event [ed. Note: Rippel is an editor for The Clerk]. “I think it’s a discussion that Haverford students don’t always have and Shaun was the perfect guy I think to bring that sort of discussion to the forefront to the community, I think just because of his presence nationally.”

In his talk, King described what he calls “the dip,” an undefined period of time in which humans are not growing. King said that many Americans are stuck in “the dip” and that it may take years, if not centuries, to pull ourselves out.

King pointed to various times in history when people have fallen into “the dip” – from slavery to the Holocaust to the genocide in Rwanda. He also briefly mentioned the 2016 presidential election.

“If human beings are steadily improving, how do we explain Donald Trump?” King asked the audience. “He is the Galaxy Note 7 of politicians.”

Throughout the talk, King also showed videos of recent incidents of police brutality and gave some context about this issue.

“I’m struggling to believe that this is how humanity works,” King said.

King also answered a number of questions from the audience, focusing on different topics that ranged from how to reach more students on campus about these issues to how we interact with videos of police brutality.

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Sierra Zareck ’20 responds to King’s talk during the Q&A session. Photograph by Kate Silber.

Carol Lee Diallo ’19 attended a workshop and dinner before King’s talk and said that she was excited to participate in all parts of the event.

“It’s really great to have cool people come in, but also when people come in and are going to talk about something of particular relevance to this context right now, I think we get a lot more interest generated as a community and I think that means we all grow as a community,” Diallo said.

King’s talk was part of the Community Conversations and Actionable Solutions initiative on campus. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of the President, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Bi-College Program in Africana Studies, Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Provost, Ethical Leadership Initiative, and Distinguished Visitor’s Fund.

The next event hosted by Community Conversations and Actionable Solutions will be a panel discussion with police officers and policy makers in the spring.

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